“Have You Ever Dreamed of Flying?” Boeing asks, and answers its own question: “We’re making that dream a reality.” Well, actually, the person entering HeroX and Boeing’s GoFly competition will make their own dream a reality, and possibly win substantial sums in the process.
Abundance Insider, an Internet outreach from Peter Diamandis, himself well-acquainted with prize competitions, gives an excellent short rundown on the competition.
“What it is: HeroX recently announced the GoFly Prize, sponsored by Boeing — a $2 million challenge to create a personal flying machine that is useful, safe and thrilling (italics by the editor). The goal is to foster the development of a safe, quiet, ultra-compact, near-VTOL personal flying device capable of flying 20 miles while carrying a single person.
“Why it’s important: Each week, we feature examples of converging exponential technologies that are helping us go from science fiction to science fact. Boeing’s sponsorship of this unique incentive competition reflects how its leadership is thinking about the future of transportation — especially considering its simultaneous exploration of pilotless planes and Mars travel.”
What is HeroX?
Following Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne winning the $10 million Ansari XPrize in 2004, XPrize founder Peter Diamandis envisioned, “A platform that would make the power of incentive challenges available to anyone. The result was the spin-off of HeroX in 2013.”
HeroX, co-founded by Diamandis, challenge designer Emily Fowler and entrepreneur Christian Cotichini is a means to democratize the innovation model of XPRIZE. The organization, partnered with City Light Capital, “Exists to enable anyone, anywhere in the world, to create a challenge that addresses any problem or opportunity, build a community around that challenge and activate the circumstances that can lead to a breakthrough innovation.”
Beyond flying a person 20 miles, Boeing expands, “What we are seeking is an ‘everyone’ personal flying device, capable of being flown by ANYONE, ANYWHERE. It should be a device for ALL: young and old, city-dweller and country-dweller, expert and novice.” This implies a highly-automated flying machine, and the ultra-compactness comes from the need to figuratively fly oneself out of and back into a barrel.
Obviously, a high degree of precise navigational ability is required to remain within the 30-feet diameter, 12-feet high virtual barrel envelope during departure and arrival. Microphones arranged 50 feet from envelope center, will record the noise level of the machine.
The pilot will be required to fly around a six-nautical-mile course defined by pylons approximately half a nautical mile apart. Rules state, “The speed run may be flown at any safe altitude out of ground effect (defined as at least 1 x the size measurement at all times). There is no guarantee that the entire course will be obstacle-free at altitudes below 50’ AGL.”
First Things First
To drill down through the multiple layers that define this competition, those intent on entering should review the technical rules and then make sure nothing in the GoFly Prize Competitor Agreement places too great an impediment in their way. Entrants have until April 4, 2018 to file their registration papers, and until April 18, 2018 to submit a written report and preliminary drawing.
Winners of the first round will be notified by May 29, 2018 and will proceed to build the actual flight vehicle. They have until December 6, 2018 to officially register for Phase II, and until February 8, 2019 to submit the physical creation and documentation for their entry. GoFly will issue invitations to participate in the fly-off on March 28. Phase III will consist of a pre-flight evaluation in September 2019, and the actual fly-off in October.
GoFly will award four major prizes for the winners:
- One $1,000,000 Grand Prize awarded for the best overall fly-off score.
- One $250,000 prize for the quietest compliant entry.
- One $250,000 prize for the smallest compliant entry.
- One $100,000 prize awarded for disruptive advancement of the state of the art.
Note that size and quietness are two major goals for this contest. The prize for “disruptive advancement” is most intriguing.
Having looked at the paperwork involved, your editor cautions potential entrants to read everything several times. Things are tightly defined and probably not subject to being appealed if the entrant doesn’t follow the rules.
Will the future of personal flight look like this?
Or this? The builder claims to have constructed it in three weeks and to have flown it “hundreds of times.”
If you have a jet-pack, single-person drone, or flying carpet on your drawing board or in your garage, here is an opportunity to gain funding and recognition for your efforts. The next two years should include an exciting series of revelations.